Track & Field

Americans run riot on day 2 in Bahamas

The World Relays finished just as they began, with a shrieking, deafening roar from the home crowd, but this time the result was different – the United States taking a narrow win over the home heroes in the men’s 4x400m final to close the action on what was an unforgettable weekend of competition in the Bahamas.

It was often the case throughout last night, the final night of the World Relays, as the US team swept event after event, and in the thrilling, climactic final race, it was they again who triumphed, but not before they faced the fight of their life from an inspired home team.

On paper, it looked set to be an easy win for the United States, and it looked to be going with the script after the second leg, which Tony McQuay blitzed in 44.00 to give them a considerable lead over the Bahamas.

However, Steven Gardiner blasted through his first 200m on the third leg, moving past Jeremy Wariner like he was standing still. “I heard the crowd cheering louder, so I knew something was happening behind me, but I had a race strategy and I just stuck to it,” said Wariner. Being a wily veteran of the 4x400m game, Wariner had left plenty in reserve and moved past Gardiner again rounding the final turn.

He handed over to Lashawn Merritt with a seven-meter lead, which Merritt preserved for much of his leg until Chris Brown of the Bahamas mounted one, final spirited push to break the American dominance, just as they had done at the 2012 Olympics.

Alas, even with the frantic screams of 15,000 supporters in his ears, Brown’s final push wasn’t enough and the US took the honours in 2:58.43 ahead of the Bahamas in 2:58.91. Back in third, Belgium – with three members of the Borlee family on the team – broke their national record with 2:59.33.

In the men’s 4x200m, Jamaica got some revenge for the 4x100m defeat on Saturday night when defeating the US, a disastrous handover on the second exchange between Isiah Young and Curtis Mitchell ending the Americans’ hopes of a win. In the absence of Usain Bolt, who was watching trackside, Warren Weir anchored the Jamaicans to victory in 1:20.97 ahead of France.

“We came here with a strong team,” said Nickel Ashmeade. “We’re all focusing on Beijing, but this is a great start to the season.”

Jamaica was also victorious in the women’s 4x100m, turning the tables on the United States, who had three of their world-record-setting quartet in their line-up. When it came down to the final leg, Carmelita Jeter and Veronica Campbell Brown took the baton together.

As in so many individual clashes of theirs, it was a head-to-head shootout down the home straight, and Veronica Campbell Brown had the gears when it mattered most, taking two meters out of Jeter to win in 42.14 ahead of the United States’ 42.32.

“We came out to execute and win the race,” said Veronica Campbell Brown. “I’m very happy with what we accomplished yesterday and today.”

Crazy Kenyans beaten by US world record run in the men’s dmr

A world record fell, somewhat unsurprisingly, in the men’s distance medley relay, although the nation which took the honours looked a longshot with just 400m to run.

Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot had taken the baton alongside America’s Ben Blankenship for the final mile leg, but soon swiftly bolted to the front and opened a 20-meter lead. It was a lead he still held at the halfway point, but one which Blankenship – who had paced his mile much more evenly – halved by the time they took the bell. At the start of the back stretch, Blankenship shot past the Kenyan, but Cheruiyot swiftly clung to his tail.

In the end, though, he simply couldn’t manage to overhaul Blankenship, and the American ended up running a 3:51.24 mile leg to bring his team home in 9:15.50 ahead of Kenya (9:17.20) to establish a new world record and pocket a $50,000 bonus for the quartet.

“It was an intense race,” said Blankenship. “It was scary seeing the Kenyan take off in the beginning and get so far ahead. I had no idea what sort of splits we were running relative to the world record. We broke the record by 0.06, so it’s a good thing I didn’t start celebrating early!”

US women’s 4x400m facile win expected

The most unsurprising win of the night came in the women’s 4x400m, when the United States blasted to an easy win in 3:19.39, a championship record. Though they had already raced to the lead after legs of 51.40 from Phyllis Francis and 49.93 from Natasha Hastings, it was the 48.79-second leg from Sanya Richards-Ross which truly did the damage to the chasing pack. Francena McCorory brought it home for the Americans with a 49.27-second leg.

“It’s a great feeling,” said McCorory. “I love running with this group of talented ladies. We were confident before we started and we came and did it.”

US dominate women’s 4 by 800m and just miss out on breaking 8 mins

The US was also a convincing winner of the women’s 4x800m relay in 8:00.60 ahead of Poland in 8:11.36. Their lead was opened by Maggie Vessey on the second leg, who took over from Chanelle Price on the first leg, and was then consolidated by Molly Beckwith-Ludlow on the third leg. On the final leg, Alysia Johnson Montano stormed around the two laps in 1:58.90 to bring them home to victory.

“I was part of the team that established the championship record last year and nobody was expecting it to be broken again, but we came out and did it,” said Price.

Indeed, on the whole, it was the American team who came out and did it better than anyone else this weekend, and they were rewarded with the golden baton once again.

Lavin, Healy, Creaner, Foster
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Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy is a freelance journalist, a once-serious, now-retired athlete who writes for a number of international publications in the running industry. He has won two sports-writing awards, the Peter Ball Memorial Award in Ireland and the Wills Writing Award in the UK. Nationally, he previously worked for the Sunday Tribune, Irish Runner magazine and has written for the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, the Guardian and The Independent in Britain. He is a regular contributor to Running Times, Runner's World, RunBlogRun and the IAAF website.
His banter levels are often poor, occasionally exceptional.

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